Basic Classroom Skills.

According to Dave Stoff in his “Behaviour Matters“; teaching basic classroom skills early is a simple and essential way to instill good behaviour principles in students.

Basic classroom skills need to be taught in just the same manner as any other part of the school curriculum. They need to be highlighted throughout each year, clearly taught, practised and regularly referred to. Teachers shouldn’t fall into the trap of assuming that all students  (new/existing) have been taught these skills; and that they can all put them into practice faultlessly. Some will still be struggling to cope. There will others who know perfectly well how to behave, but simply choose not to.

The  first step in teaching basic classroom behaviour is to identify what you consider to be the essential skills. These may include:

  • Entering and leaving;
  • Beginning written or practical work;
  • How to ask for help or to  seek the teacher’s attention;
  • What to do when their work is finished;
  • Taking joint responsibility for the overall appearance of the school / classroom (picking up litter, clearing away books, paper, equipment).

These may seem simple skills that students should have mastered before they move to your school / classroom; but it is worth checking because they are essential skills that, if not understood and practised, will be the source of disruption throughout all the semester.

Try to treat each skill you are teaching in exactly the same manner as the material on your curriculum. Identify the key areas and work out the essential components that the student needs to both understand and master.  Go through each of the components or stages of the skill with the pupils ( as a class and individually) and check for their understanding at each step. Once the stages have been clearly understood, give them plenty of opportunity to practice the skill, rewarding with appropriate praise when they get it right. Regularly refer to he skill and have visual reminders around your teaching area.

An example of outline plan for teaching a basic classroom skill:

Skill: Responding appropriately when teacher requests your attention.

Teacher: “When I want you to stop work and listen to me, I will clap my hands and say – “Look here students – I would like you to put down your pen, stop work, no talking, look at me and listen”.

After giving your clear instructions, the teacher can now check for understanding of the students  by asking related question (s).

It is worthwhile spending time on the basics at this early stage of the school year. The teacher and the  students will reap the benefits as the year progresses.

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